a real-life adventure
Read Part XXI here.
Now available in ebook format!
We didn't take a trip that first weekend because it was raining. But weather didn't dampen my kids' parade. Taz asked again if he could have a slumber party in the car.
I drove us to church the first Sunday, even though it was still raining. I figured, if you can't be safe going to church, you can't be safe. Period.
The following weekend, I took the kids to Barr Lake because it was close. I'd intended to take I-76 because it's an interstate, but not as harrowing as I-25. But I chickened out and took side roads instead. We lived to tell.
Taz's first concert was the following weekend. No problem. I'd practiced. I was ready for this.
Taz stayed at school. I picked up Raz after work and drove to the middle school. In the dark! I did it!!! I did it!!! I did it!!!
Taz played so well! Of course, how difficult can "Three Blind Mice" be? Nevertheless, I was proud of him. It was time for that long-awaited and well-deserved dinner out at a nice restaurant. We exited the school, and much to our horror, rain was falling.
The three of us froze in our tracks. Quite literally. We were soaked within minutes, and the temperature was typical Colorado Rockies autumn.
"What are we going to do now?" Taz asked.
I was tempted to let him have that slumber party after all. Just not with the boys he'd hoped to invite. The three of us could hole up at the school for the night. I was sure the nurse's office would have plenty of pillows and blankets.
I tried to work up my courage. I'd been an avid four-wheeler without four-wheel drive more than half my life. Mud had been exciting. Rain had been romantic. I could make a short jaunt home. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
I waited for all the concert traffic, mild though it was, to dissipate before starting the Ugly Duckling. The kids were uncharacteristically quiet. The windows fogged. Raz drew circular smiling faces on her window.
Finally the school was locked up, the windows were dark, all headlights were gone, and I buckled up and started the car. I said a silent prayer and put the car into gear. Taz asked if we could pray. I smiled and turned the car off.
"Heavenly Father," Taz said softly, reverently, "please help us to get home safely and help the car not to roll over. Help the car not to slide in the water. And help us be able to see out the windows. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
As precious as Taz's prayer was, it made me realize my kids were harboring the same insecurities and fear as me. Outwardly, we seemed fine and well-adjusted. Deep inside, though, demons from May 25 still lurked. I realized I could help exorcize them by making this trip, and doing it without whimpering and whining.
I started the car again and put it into gear. My instinct was to start singing. We knew many happy songs. That would have made us all wash away the doubt and memories. But I fought the urge so I could concentrate on the task at hand. I began rolling forward and slowly made my way toward 120th, the four-lane, busy-all-hours-of-the-day way home.
The green light cast an eerie glow on the rain-soaked street, and then instead of turning left toward the nice restaurants, I signaled right, toward home. Taz didn't protest.
The next mile seemed like 20. Headlights from the westbound lanes played connect the raindrops on my windshield. There were no cars in the eastbound lanes for as far as I could see. I stayed in the right-hand lane, hugging the curb as I set a turtle-like pace.
Onward I drove until it happened. I shrieked and slammed on the brakes. The car came to an immediate and clean stop, but all three of us were mildly thrown forward, feeling the tight lock of the shoulder straps.
"Mom, what happened?" Taz shouted. Raz was crying.
"Nothing," I whispered, trying to catch my breath. "I just remembered."
"Me, too," Taz said as he placed his hand on my shoulder.
Something about the streetlights reflecting on the street and the silent drumming of raindrops on the roof had warped me back in time. I didn't see the red neon King Soopers sign and the traffic light at my turn on Madison. I saw a dull gray jersey barrier suddenly spinning at me in slow motion, and I felt dizzy. It was a good thing I hadn't eaten. The half-processed food would have been all over my lap.
Taz massaged my shoulders. After a few minutes, he asked if we could pray again. Raz asked me to turn on my blinkers so someone wouldn't run over us.
"Heavenly Father," Taz said a little more boldly than the first time, "please help us to make it home safely, and help my mom not to be afraid. Oh, and thank you for helping me hit the right notes tonight. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."
Not only did that prayer work miracles on my attitude and my heart, but Taz had successfully pulled what was important back into the forefront.
"You know what, Taz?" I said, wiping away salty tears, "you did play very well tonight."
"Can we have ice cream sundaes for dinner?" he quickly retorted.
Read Part XXII here.
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Copyright 2013 by Deborah and Brett Atkinson